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Bush Touts IT's Role In Health Care

In his State of the Union address, the president said computerizing health records can reduce mistakes and costs while improving care.
For years, the federal government has been advocating the use of IT in health care to reduce medical mistakes. But IT's use by doctors now has an endorsement from the top of the federal government's totem pole--President George W. Bush.

In the State of the Union speech Tuesday night, Bush said "by computerizing health records, we can avoid dangerous medical mistakes, reduce costs, and improve care."

Although the White House hasn't announced any new programs that might be linked to the president's statement, improving the quality of health care through IT has been an important goal during Bush's administration. For example, the recent Medicare modernization legislation promotes financial incentives for hospitals to improve patient care through the use of technology.

Also, in late February, the Food and Drug Administration is expected to release its final rules for drugmakers to include bar codes on single-dose medicines dispensed in hospital and other care settings. The FDA hopes that the inclusion of bar codes on those medicines will make it easier and more affordable for hospitals to deploy computerized systems that let caregivers electronically match a drug with a patient's medical record and catch mistakes before a patient receives a wrong drug or dose.